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The Department of English and Cultural Studies and the Indigenous Studies Program will be hosting Indigenous literary scholar Dr. Alice Te Punga Somerville (Māori and Indigenous Studies, University of Waikato) on Thursday, October 10th, from 4.00 – 5.30 pm in LRW 1811.

Please join us for this exciting talk!

‘The beginning is not the beginning’: Indigenous Literary Centres
LRW 1811
October 10th, 4.00 – 5.30 pm

In Baby No-Eyes, Māori novelist Patricia Grace writes: “There’s a way the older people have of telling a story, a way where the beginning is not the beginning, the end is not the end. It starts from a centre and moves away from there in such widening circles…” In Indigenous literary studies, we often turn to canonical writers who serve as important origin points to help us talk about the emergence of our literatures between then and now. The problem with beginnings, however, is that they suggest there was nothing that came before. And the thing about Indigenous genealogies is that they tend to be shaped more like networks than lines (or trees). In this talk, Dr. Te Punga Somerville will talk about her current project of tracing Indigenous literary genealogies prior to 1975, with a focus on noting lateral connections between Indigenous writers and texts across national borders. Specifically, she will draw on Grace’s idea of “start[ing] from a centre” and tracing “widening circles” of connection as a way to approach, extend and undo Indigenous literary histories.

Dr. Alice Te Punga Somerville (Te Ātiawa, Taranaki) writes and teaches at the intersections of Indigenous, Pacific, literary and cultural studies. She is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her first book was Once Were Pacific: Maori Connections to Oceania (Minnesota 2012); and her current project, “Writing the new world: Indigenous texts 1900-1975,” explores published writing by Indigenous people from Aotearoa, Australia, Fiji and Hawai‘i. She also writes the occasional poem.

All are welcome.

For more information or to request accommodations, please contact Sarah Brophy ( or Nadine Attewell (